Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening Guide


Introduce your business in style! We are happy to help our members with Ribbon Cutting and Grand Openings support to celebrate anniversaries, expansions or business debuts. Here are tips to help you set up your event:

Choosing a date and time:

To encourage the business community and BWCC members to attend, hold your event during normal business hours. Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday are best days. Early morning (8-10am), lunch time (12-2pm) or after work (5-7pm) are best times.

Contact the chamber at least a month before your event to get staff support.

Tip - If planning a grand opening, it is strongly encouraged that you open your business first and then plan the grand opening. Unpredictable delays in construction, build-out and final inspections have ruined many grand openings, even when extra time had been allotted for delays.

Supplies Needed:

Ribbon (2-4 inches wide) Giveaways/door prizes for attendees
Scissors (Chamber can supply) Basket to collect business cards
Camera/photographer Food/Beverages
Company sign/logo as backdrop in photos Decorations/Balloons
Roadside signage Invitations/map/directions
Follow-up plan Contact media
Press release announcing event/follow-up Microphone (optional)

Be CreativePick a Theme

Find creative ways to tie your product into the ceremony. For example:

  • A lawn care service could use hedge clippers instead of scissors
  • Use a checkered finish line instead of a ribbon for an auto repair store
  • A hotel welcomed attendees using an “Aloha” Hawaiian theme.

Food

Finger foods and beverages are recommended. Menu depends on time of day, season and theme of event. For a list of caterers, contact the BWCC for recommendations. Tip: Be sure to have trash cans available for attendees when finished with their disposable plates/cups/napkins, etc.

Put Someone in Charge

It really pays to have someone designated as the “stage manager” for a ribbon cutting. This person should be responsible for making sure that the program stays on schedule and that all materials such as signage, ribbon (you provide the ribbon), and scissors are in place. If desired, the Chamber will provide scissors for the cutting. Make sure you create a document that outlines in detail the chain of events that will take place and give a copy to each individual involved. Also, designate someone as a media contact who will meet with reporters after the ribbon cutting to answer specific questions. Reporters appreciate fact sheets or a press release with important numbers, information and names, so copies should be available on-site. Decide beforehand where to stage the interviews and the ribbon cutting. Is there a particular place that would make a good background for the cameras?

Sample Agenda (assuming a 2-hour event from 5-7pm)

5:00- 5:30 pm - Welcome, casual mixing and mingling, tours, serve food and beverages.

5:30 – 6:00pm – Official welcome, introductions, awards (this is a good time to recognize any deserving staff members who worked hard on the project, who have served the company well, recently completed training or other noteworthy accomplishments. This can give attendees a more personal (positive) impression of your company and tends to make your event more memorable. Take photos throughout this time.

Ribbon cutting

Door prizes

Announce offer for tours (if applicable)

Thank everyone for coming. Encourage them to stay (mix/mingle/eat/enjoy).

Invite them to take giveaway with them when they leave

6:00 – 7:00 pm – Networking, Mixing and Mingling

Getting the Media to Come

The press appreciates being notified of events. Send out press releases a month before the event. A friendly follow-up call is always helpful the day before the event. Ask for BWCC’s media contact list.

Photography

If you want photographs for future advertisements or press releases, it will pay to hire a professional photographer. Do not assume the photographer will know exactly what to shoot. Instead, give him/her a list of shots that you want. Include candid ceremony pictures, posed people shots and shots of the crowd. This information should also be in the stage manager’s detailed outline. To find photographers, search the Chamber’s website member directory at www.bwcc.org or contact the BWCC office for referrals.

Choose a high-profile ribbon cutter(s):

Options include: U.S. Senator; U.S. Representative, State Senator, State Delegate, County Executive, County Council Chair, County Council Member, Local Mayor, Local City Council Chair, Economic Development Director, Chamber Board Chair, Chamber President. (For help identifying contact names and numbers, call the BWCC office).

Tip: Schedules for many of these individuals is often filled months in advance. Also, the scheduler for these individuals may be juggling numerous requests for the person’s time. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the business, the more “local” a business should seek to find a ribbon cutter.

Invitations

Invite your clients, prospects, your banker, fellow chamber members, your staff, neighbors, friends, family and the “who’s who” in your region (regional leaders and politicians).Is the general public invited? If so, place your event in area community calendars (in print and online). Be sure to include detailed information about the location of the event, and a map, if possible. If there is time, (at least a month), the BWCC will help promote your event by placing a press release in the newsletter. The deadline to submit your press release is the first Friday of the month prior to your event – 150 words max. Email it to bwcc@bwcc.org Subject line: “News from a Member”

What Happens Afterward?

Businesses may want to invite attendees in for a tour or have a grand opening sale with special discounts for people who came to the ceremony. Remember to send notes to special guests thanking them for their participation.

Summary of what the BWCC will do:

  • Provide this guide, help you select a date and time, answer any questions you have in regards to your event.
  • Post your event notice (press release) in the BWCC newsletter (if time allows)
  • Email an invitation for your event (provided by you) to all BWCC board members, staff and committee chairs.
  • Attend your event.
  • Provide the “official” grand opening ceremonial “Big Scissors” for photo op
  • Take photos and print them in next BWCC newsletter

Congratulations & Happy Celebrating!